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Dancers & SEN


Actsingdance
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I'm usually known under another username but have logged in for this under a different account - hope that's OK.

 

I so wondered if any members had any experience of having dancing children with SEN. Specifically how they cope with the pressure of vocational training, socialising/fitting in etc.

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Ooh this thread will be interesting! As a young dancer with Aspergers, at residential summer schools I have found it hard to 'fit in' as being in a large friendship group is challenging because I struggle to communicate and don't know what to say to people. Also, in the evenings, I would stretch for a while- this seemed bizarre to the other girls; classes had finished for the day so why was I still thinking about dance? I didn't know how to respond to their lighthearted teasing, and as such, felt quite isolated. I too am curious as to how dancers with social difficulties such as Aspergers cope at vocational schools...

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My gut feeling tells me that it would be very tough indeed for a student with some sort of learning disabilty, as it is very tough for students without a learning disability. The son of some friends of ours, who is mildly autistic, attends a mainstream academic boarding school where he is thriving but his learning is topped up by his parents and he comes home quite frequently (ie between exeats). Vocational school would be more demanding than an academic school, I would think.

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I think there are a number of children in vocational schools who have SEN. I think they fit in very well as in my opinion most dancers are quirky or drama queens.These schools lend themselves very well in allowing children to express themselves through different mediums. All of the schools offer an excellent curriculum that is diverse to cater for all levels of learning. At the end of the day it comes down to the severity of the SEN. Would your child have managed in mainstream education or would a SEN school have been better.

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I would say that quite a high percentage of students in lower school have the above. Higher than in the mainstream. It was mentioned in the talk to parents at one of the 4 top lower school auditions. My personal option is that students with the above will always have a mastery in something be it computers, art, music, memory or indeed dance that makes them very focused that way. X

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Something I'm unsure about (I hope you don't mind me asking on your thread ActSingDance) is when in competitions groups of dancers with additional needs (usually physical disabilities) compete against groups of dancers

 

I feel uncomfortable as the competition seems so unfair

 

WRT ASD I think that wherever they are educated they will struggle the provision for children who are not NT in this country is generally poor.  I would hope that vocational schools would be used to 'quirky' or 'unusual' personalities as often people with great talent display behaviours outside our 'norm' (whatever that is)

 

SN & SEN training is poor and many preconceptions about ability/disability & education are rife in many, many mainstream schools :(:angry:

 

'Special needs' is a term I hate - 'Additional needs' is much more appropriate particularly in educational settings (climbs off high horse :unsure: )

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It all depends on the severity of the condition, surely. Finding it hard to socialise or being a bit quirky or 'odd' does not mean that a person has Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Further down the line, how will a person with AS manage in a company where flexibility, teamwork, long hours in close proximity with other people (perhaps on tour), empathy and intimate contact with a range of dancing partners are all required. Company life is extremely pressured and I honestly wonder whether a person with AS would cope, let alone thrive.

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My eldest ex dd had ADHD. No one wanted to know her. It was the same at school. The internet has been her salvation as she has met others like herself and people who will accept her the way she is.

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I would respectfully disagree with "most dancers" being either "quirky or drama queens". Thinking about dd and her friends, and about a couple of professional dancers I know, they are neither. Highly focused, certainly, but I wouldn't think of them as drama queens in any way. "Quirky"? Probably not but it depends upon your definition of the word. :-)

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I agree with spanner. Young people who train at a high level in most fields are slightly separated from their everyday peers because they have to make huge sacrifices in order to pursue a career in their chosen professions.

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I wouldn't use drama queen but 'quirky' I would - the ones I know/have met have had better arts knowledge than other teens I have come across a more defined personality with real character and often a good sense of ambition

 

The 'other' teens I know can barely string sentences together on anything other than school/TV/popstars have little concept of their 'future' and how the effort they put in to their studies can have a direct affect on it.

 

Now I have met both types in both camps - but the majorities are 'true to stereotype'.  Maybe the ones I have met have been unusual - but I can only comment on the ones I meet

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And, contrary to popular belief, people with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and Autism do not all have a special talent. I am deeply sceptical that the vocational dance schools are full of students with AS. Sadly, many teenagers and adults with AS suffer from depression and other mental health problems such as OCD and I wonder whether the schools and, later, the companies have the capacity to support a person with a complex mix of support needs.

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Having experienced several vocational schools over the last 8 years I stand by my comments. That is not to say that these students work to incredibly high standards. They are dedicated to their art and make so many sacrifices no youngster should have to.

I teach youngsters with additional needs in mainstream school. I also have a son who has mild ASD epilepsy and cerebral palsy. I am a bit too passionat when working with these youngsters and ensuring they access the curriculum the same as their peers. So from my personal experiences this has been my interpretation of what I have witnessed of students at vocational schools but this certainly does not apply to all.

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Sadly aileen I can relate to what you are saying about the depression and ocd as my son is going through this right now. He up until last week played cerebral palsy football for England the pressure he put on himself was immense and sadly he turned down his place at the nationals. What I am trying to say is that he had up to this point had such a great experience of playing at this level. We gave him the opportunities to try to reach his potential. Sadly it was too much for him for now. I would encourage any person with or without a additional need to give it a go. Things may or not work out the same applies for everybody else. Just make sure there is a good support network in place. Who knows their aspirations just might become a reality. It they dont try they will never know.

By the way I do not believe that voc schools are full of student with ASD. Unless one is a pychologist and have gone around diagnosing students then non of us know for sure if a child has a additional need. What would be really interesting though would be if any of the students hold a statement of their educational needs.

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What a shame for your son, primrose, but at least he had a period (some years?) of enjoying playing football at a very high level. I do think that some environments and professions will be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, for a person with an ASD though. Can a vocational school or company be expected to give the long term support which the person requires? Can a person with an ASD cope with the complexities and pressures of vocational school and company life? I suspect that s/he would need a permanent support worker, if s/he did not have a parent at close at hand at all times.

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My eldest also dropped out of university. It was the wrong place for her completely but I think she would have struggled wherever she went. I think a gap year might have helped too.

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I think it depends how severe the ASD is and how it affects the person. Many people have very little understanding of autism. Many believe it is the isolated person who requires no friends and have no eye contact or language etc. Yes the extremes can be like this but mostly people on the spectrum do live independent lives even get married. There was a documentary about autism on the television a few weeks ago highlighting the strategies people with asd can put in place to help themselves. Quite a few were public speakers etc.

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I saw that programme.

 

Lots to think about.

 

We've been told that lots of performers have HFA or Aspergers (quite a few actors apparently) & one of our child's teachers is on the spectrum.

 

Also the current school were very quick to pick up on the social problems whereas the previous school never suggested any problems.

 

I agree that not all ASD children have a talent but they do seem to have obsessions (which may or may not change over time & which rule their lives.

 

One of my children has had various obsessions which are seen by their school as a problem because it prevents them getting on with what they are supposed to be doing (Thomas the Tank, Pokemon , now Minecraft)

 

The other child's obsession of dancing was never really seen as a problem before.

 

Both children are perfectionists & have meltdowns if they can't do things first time.

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I have found it hard to socialise with people since the age of about 15. I was diagnosed with Social Phobia or Social Phobic Disorder to be precise,about 10 years ago by a Psychiatrist. He told me that if it had been dealt with at the time I could have been "cured" of it. [Don`t quite know how else to phrase it,but you know what I mean].However,he told me because I was at the time in my thirties,my personality was "set," and I will have this condition for the rest of my life. My Social Phobia affects everything I do and everyone I come into contact with. I think that`s one of the reasons I like this Forum so much; I feel "safe" on here, interacting with people without having to interact with people, if you know what I mean.!!

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Just to add,but obviously,I realise that Aspberger`s is different, and it can`t be "cured" if it is diagnosed in time. I have a friend whose son was finally diagnosed with it when he was 14 I think. They always knew there was something "different" about him,but of course,didn`t know what. Then 2 years later his younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD. I think it has helped the whole family enormously knowing what it is they were dealing with. I felt this too,a sense of relief when |I got my diagnosis. 

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I do understand this. I was thrilled when we had a diagnosis for our eldest but "keep taking the tablets" was all we were ever told. She is highly intelligent and would get very frustrated when she could not do things perfectly. Eventually she stopped trying at school because she was either not challenged enough or challenged too much - she is left handed and dyspractic to add to the mix.

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We mustn't forget though that S.E.N covers a very wide and varied area of problems. Hammond and Tring on the academic side appeared to support pupils who had additional needs. Tring was very good if your child was very bright academically. Regarding emotional needs, house parents would have to play a very important role. I don't know if there is extra training in place for that area, which would be crucial for a child if they were away from home. 

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I'm surprised to read that a lot of actors and performers who are required to act as part of their 'art' have ASDs as acting requires you to get under the skin of a character and this is a skill that I imagine people with ASDs would struggle to acquire. I'm probably going to be shouted down for saying this but I feel that the perameters for a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome have become a little too broad in recent years and that people seek a diagnosis where they or their child struggles socially, or is a bit 'quirky' in some way or does not fit in with his/her peer group. If you have AS you will struggle in any social situation as you will be unable to empathise with other people, modify your behaviour in different situations and interpret the subtleties and undercurrents of everyday social interactions.

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